Everybody was Kung-fu fighting
Those cats were fast as lightning
In fact it was a little bit frightening
But they fought with expert timing
I’ve said it in past reviews and I’ll say it again, I’m a sucker for Asian martial-arts, samurais and ninja flicks. If it’s the legend of Bruce Lee, the ‘Revenge of the Ninja’ series, the ‘American Ninja’ pentalogy or some classic Bruce Leroy Green, then I usually glue to the seat. What happened to the good old days when the Fox network would air some martial-arts material right after the Saturday morning cartoons? I use to love those days catching these movies on my UHF antenna struggling to read the subtitles constantly adjusting the vertical hold on the tube set. Although those vintage days of my childhood are long gone, I still can’t resist watching these Asian flicks. I’m just a flat out sucker for them.
‘Kung Fu Panda 3D’ isn’t the ideal movie I’m use to watching in this genre, but with my choices being limited to high definition unless I import, I’m open to just about anything released on Blu-ray. With production taking four years to complete and becoming the first Dreamworks release ever on IMAX, you know I had some curiosity. Of course I would never hold my expectations of an animated film starring a panda to the likes of what I’m use to watching. Just was hoping for a few laughs and a good time with some fun action sequences.
Po (Jack Black) the panda knows everything revolving around ancient Chinese Kung-Fu. Too bad he’s overweight and not athletic. While working in his father’s noodle shop, he hears the great news: "The Furious Five" are coming to make a spectacular appearance in his small town because Master Oogway (Randall Duk Kim) will announce the "dragon warrior." Will it be Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Viper (Lucy Liu) or Crane (David Cross)? Unfortunately, Oogway doesn’t choose any member of The Furious Five, and due to some freak accident, he nominates Po. Unhappy with Oogway’s decision, Shifu (trainer of The Furious Five and played by Dustin Hoffman) is now forced to train Po. When Shifu’s first apprentice, Tai Lung, finds out he wasn't named the dragon warrior, he goes on an epic rampage to seek vengeance. It’s up to Shifu, Po and The Furious Five to stop him--the most talented kung-fu fighter ever.
‘Kung Fu Panda 3D’ has a lot of jokes toward animals and overweight panda’s. Most are stereotypical but still quite hilarious. Even though the movie is mainly based on comedy, there is a decent plot that somehow gets buried under all the comedic scenes. The villain Tai Lung is the perfect antagonist with his enormous size, background story, deep voice and fighting abilities. Regardless of him being the enemy of the good guys, you can’t help butwish for more screen time from the vicious beast. The action scenes are also amusing and loads of entertainment to watch. It’s fun to watch as each animal fights in their own unique animal style. Too bad the film isn’t run by a majority of fight scenes.
Children will find ‘Kung Fu Panda 3D’ enjoyable as well. My 2-year old daughter was pretty much glued to the TV during the third-dimension full runtime (don’t worry she wasn’t wearing 3D glasses, she was watching the DVD 2D version on her portable next to me). Kids will constantly laugh at Po as he's a disgrace who can’t stop eating and thinking about food.
Adults will appreciate veterans Dustin Hoffman and Jackie Chan as voices. Hoffman carries the experienced Master Shifu superbly. Seth Rogen is his usual jocular self but with minimal lines. Jack Black is fine as the lead voice as Po. He’s solid on numerous occasions but also grew tiresome towards the end. It may be me though as I’m not big on Jack Black. If the movie would have had more interaction with Tai Lung, The Furious Five and more fighting in general, I would have enjoyed this so much more.
(Viewed on my Samsung PN50C7000 and SSG-2100AB glasses)
Presented in full 1080p via MVC encode, ‘Kung Fu Panda 3D’ looks just as stunning as the previous 2D release. The same pristine colors and excellent sensibility of depth is still intact. The movie does a great job of detailing the smallest things to give us a visual of ancient China. The buildings and scriptures look astonishing and look throwback like Mitchell & Ness. Each animal isn’t highly detailed in my opinion but the movie makes up for it in small dirt and burned or fatigued appearances. The palace where the nomination of the dragon warrior takes place is so vibrant and looks so realistic. Even dark scenes that suffer from lighting appear impressive. Wait til you see Tai Lung’s prison and how dark it is. Now the movie has some 2D animation that looks a little flat but that’s how the movie allows Po and Shifu to tell a few stories. ‘Kung Fu Panda 3D’ is a magnificent transfer and a great view on Blu-ray.
The third-dimension adds vivid depth that 2D couldn’t add before. The dragon’s mouth where the dragon warrior scroll lies is a perfect example of supplementary 3D. A few scenes suffer from depth when the animation appears to be a cheap background set, but this is infrequent. Fans of pop-out 3D effect don’t get much coming off the screen except for maybe a few leaves, some dirt, rain, snow and confetti. The major disappointment of the 3D version was the ghosting/crosstalk issue. It’s not a constant during the viewing of the film but it comes up a lot. A scene here and a scene there have ghosting problems. The character Po is the most problematic of when he's in the middle of the screen during dark scenes.
Delivered with the identical Dolby TrueHD 5.1 sound mix that the previous release had. This release can hang out with the best of the best animations. Dialogue is balanced extremely comfortable and never outdone by background sounds. When Po is training you can hear the slightest cricket chirp, wind blowing or river stream flowing. All speakers are used frequently with hardly a chance to take a break. The best part of the audio provided is Tai Long action scenes. The ground shakes and explodes with round-house kicks and gives every ounce of your sub-woofer some work. The Furious Five also do an excellent task of co-signing this statement on their battle and training sessions. ‘Kung Fu Panda 3D’ was a nice treat for my surround sound equipment and also includes a decent soundtrack.
One extra found on the 3D disc, all other supplements are located on the DVD disc.
Although not a true martial-arts flick and mainly a comedy, I still found ‘Kung Fu Panda 3D’ a fun and funny movie. I’m sure children will applaud it more than I would. The audio track is superb and the talent voices are a great treat. 3D made the movie a bit more fun for me but nothing spectacular. If you’re a huge fan of 3D, this release is a good portion but I don’t feel is a must. Currently it can only be purchased at BestBuy, if you’re patient the price may drop some when released in every retail outlet.